Notts County’s Meadow Lane
November 2, 2017
The Meadow Lane Stadium (usually known simply as Meadow Lane) is the home ground of Notts County, who have played there since 1910. It currently has an all-seated capacity of 19,841 for Football League games. The record attendance is 47,310, who watched County lose 1–0 to York City in the FA Cup Sixth Round on 12 March 1955.
Meadow Lane lies just three hundred yards away from the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest. The two grounds are the closest in England and the second-closest in the United Kingdom after the grounds of Dundee and Dundee United. The Trent End of the City Ground is visible from parts of the Jimmy Sirrel stand and the Spion Kop.
Prior to 1910, Notts County played their home games across the River Trent at Trent Bridge as a tenant of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.Cricket took priority on the ground and the football club were often forced to play early and late season fixtures at other venues to avoid a clash.
The Football League eventually deemed that this practice was inappropriate and demanded that Notts either seek more favourable terms for the use of Trent Bridge or relocate to a new ground on which they could fulfil all of their fixtures.
In 1910, a plot of land near the cattle market on the opposite side of the River Trent was leased from the city council and a new stadium hastily erected. Part of the new stadium was a temporary stand from Trent Bridge which was literally floated across the river.
On 3 September 1910, County moved to Meadow Lane, the first game was a 1–1 draw with old rivals Nottingham Forest, played in front of 27,000 fans paying receipts of £775.
In 1920 the landlord, Nottingham Corporation, which leased the land to the club, came very close to removing the club from its premises to make way for an abattoir. The stadium remained largely the same until 1923 when the Sneinton Side was replaced with a new stand, named the County Road Stand after the newly constructed road behind it.
Meadow Lane was bombed during World War II forcing the club to suspend all fixtures during the 1942 season. The northern side of the Main Stand was badly damaged and the pitch left in an unplayable condition.
During the 1970s and 80s the stadium became increasingly dilapidated. The Meadow Lane End was demolished in 1978 and replaced by a building which housed new dressing rooms, a social club and a variety of other facilities designed to generate more income. There was no stand at this end for several years and Meadow Lane was reduced to a three sided ground. Eventually a small terrace was installed on this side. The Bradford fire and Hillsborough disaster brought the safety of football stadia into the public gaze and eventually the Taylor Report required that football clubs modernise their grounds. Meadow Lane was subsequently redeveloped during the early 1990s, although the work was planned before the report was issued. The Meadow Lane End, County Road Stand and Spion Kop were all demolished in the 1992 close season and replaced with the Family Stand, the Jimmy Sirrel Stand and the Spion Kop Stand respectively. The Main Stand was replaced during the close season of 1994 by the Derek Pavis Stand. This stand contains a number of conference and function facilities to complement The Broken Wheelbarrow bar behind the Family Stand. These host numerous functions throughout the year, ranging from social evenings organised by Notts County’s supporter organisations, to wedding receptions and meetings of Christian churches.
Away supporters are normally restricted to the Jimmy Sirrel stand, at the County Road side. This features a triangular gable (a replica of that on the old County Road stand) with the name of the club and its year of formation.
The Family Stand was renamed The Haydn Green Family Stand in 2007, after the man who saved Notts County from liquidation in 2003, by buying the lease on the ground and investing several million pounds. Haydn Green died suddenly in 2007 leaving an estate which still controls the lease on the ground.
Outside the stadium on Meadow Lane is a bronze statue of Jimmy Sirrel and coach Jack Wheeler. Entitled “Legends of the Lane”, the statue was sculpted by Andy Edwards and unveiled on 5 May 2016.